CORONAVIRUS: South African company Isango Ensemble cancels York Theatre Royal season in May

Isango Ensemble: May tour to York Theatre Royal cancelled; may tour next year instead,

ISANGO Ensemble’s three-week season at York Theatre Royal in May – the “highlight of their year” – has been cancelled in light of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The South African company, whose performers are drawn mainly from the Cape Town townships, was programmed to perform three shows from its repertoire, The Mysteries, The Magic Flute and SS Mendi: Dancing the Death Drill, from May 5 to 23 in Isango’s first visit to York in their two-decade span. Now they hope to visit Yorkshire next year instead.

Isango Ensemble in SS Mend; Dancing The Death Drill. Picture: The Other Richard

Theatre Royal executive director Tom Bird says: “We are devastated that our friends Isango Ensemble are unable to make the trip to the UK. They have been in rehearsal for a specially curated season of work that was sure to delight and inspire our audiences with their joyous productions. We hope there will be another opportunity for us to welcome the company to York in the future.”

Director Mark Dornford-May, the Yorkshireman who co-founded Isango 20 years ago, says: “The whole ensemble were so excited to be visiting York for the first time in our 20-year history. It really was the highlight of the year. To have been rehearsing the shows and then not be able to play them in that beautiful theatre is a deeply felt blow.

Isango Ensemble in The Mysteries: Noluthando Boqwana as Lucifer, left, with Devils

“Tom and all his colleagues have been so supportive throughout the last few difficult days and together we hope to create a plan to get to play in Yorkshire next year.”

Ticket holders will be contacted by the Theatre Royal box office in the coming weeks.​​

Did you know?

ISANGO Ensemble is a Cape Town theatre company led by director and co-founder Mark Dornford-May and music directors Pauline Malefane and Mandisi Dyantyis.